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"The red zone, it's a tough area, it's just like third down, tight windows, you have got to get on the same page with guys and only having been here a short while, it's going to take a little time," Jimmy Garoppolo said.

“The red zone, it’s a tough area, it’s just like third down, tight windows, you have got to get on the same page with guys and only having been here a short while, it’s going to take a little time,” Jimmy Garoppolo said.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Despite dominating in major statistical categories such as total yards, first downs and time of possession, the San Francisco 49ers still needed a last-second field goal to overcome the Chicago Bears last week.

Yes, a Niners’ turnover and a special teams miscue helped contribute to that, but the biggest culprit preventing the Niners from winning in far more comfortable fashion was an inability to finish trips to the red zone with touchdowns.
In fact, the 49ers’ went 0-for-5 on trips inside Chicago’s 20 on Sunday, settling for a field goal on four of those trips and purposefully playing for one on their final possession. That the Niners were still able to win is a positive, but the lack of red zone production has been a consistent theme all season and the biggest reason for those struggles has also been a persistent issue.

“The tighter it gets, the more exact you have to be,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Everything gets harder, the windows get smaller. Even the run support with safeties, you can play a two-shell defense and still meet the back at the line of scrimmage because they don’t have to drop back as far. They’re not as worried about posts up over the top and things like that. So, everything gets tighter so you’ve got to execute very well. We didn’t as a whole team.”

At the center of that lack of execution was a series of self-inflicted mistakes in the form of penalties. The Niners were called for six infractions on plays run inside Chicago’s 20 with the Bears accepting four of them. Making matters worse, those penalties didn’t just come inside the Bears’ 20 but inside their 10.

On the Niners’ first drive, they had second-and-goal at Chicago’s 9 when right tackle Trent Brown was called for holding. Suddenly, it was second-and-goal from the 19, a difficult proposition for any team. Two plays later, they settled for the first of five field goals.

In another sequence in the second quarter, the Niners had second-and-1 at Chicago’s 7 and didn’t get the first down on a running play. On third-and-1, they promptly got two false start penalties and suddenly it was third-and-11 at the Bears’ 17. Again, the result was a field goal.

Those mistakes are especially concerning given that the Niners have had that problem for most of the year. After 12 games, the Niners’ 13 accepted offensive penalties committed in the red zone are the most in the league as are the 15 they’ve been called for overall.

Of course, while penalties are at the heart of last week’s red zone woes, there are other ways for the 49ers to improve as well.

“I put a lot on those penalties down there,” Shanahan said. “We had way too many penalties. But, it wasn’t just the number of penalties, it was the time we got those penalties. I feel like that cost us two touchdowns down there, so that was disappointing. The other two times we got in the red zone it was two third-and-6s, and we didn’t convert between the 20 and 15. So, we’ve got to do a better job there. Not getting the third down, and being better on our third down. But, the most disappointing thing with the red zone was the penalties when we should have scored, I believe.”

Three quarters of the way through the season, the Niners are tied with the Cleveland Browns for the second-worst red zone touchdown percentage in the league (40.6 percent). And they’re only a little bit better when it comes to scoring in goal-to-go situations, where they have scored touchdowns on 61.1 percent of their opportunities, ranking 25th in the league.

One thing that could help in both areas is the presence of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s only played a game and three snaps but his quick release and accuracy should help him fit the ball into the tight windows to get the job done in tight spaces. There were a few times he was a little late on throws against the Bears, and though he could get away with it in some spots, it clearly didn’t happen near the goal line.
But the chance to get more time with his pass-catchers should only serve him and the Niners well as they get more opportunities deep in opponent territory.

“The red zone, it’s a tough area, it’s just like third down, tight windows, you have got to get on the same page with guys and only having been here a short while, it’s going to take a little time, but I think overall we’re going in the right direction,” Garoppolo said.

The other good news for the Niners on the red zone front is that the penalties, especially of the pre-snap variety, are correctable issues.

“It’s just little things like that when you’re in the red zone and things don’t go perfect, you end up getting field goals,” Shanahan said. “It’s a combination of all those things. The biggest thing was the penalties, though.”

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury Sunday, has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Smith, the Ravens’ top cornerback, decided to drop his appeal and begin serving his suspension after tearing his Achilles in Sunday’s 44-20 victory over the Detroit Lions, the source told Schefter.
The Ravens are expected to place Smith on injured reserve this week. This puts a smudge on what had been Smith’s finest season in the NFL. He made three interceptions and led the Ravens with nine passes broken up.

The suspension will cost Smith a total of $182,352. Smith would have lost $2 million if he hadn’t restructured his deal in August.

Smith’s season ended in the second quarter Sunday, when he fell to the ground while trying to cover a deep route. He has been dealing with an Achilles injury for most of the season and rested it by practicing only once or twice a week.

Injuries have consistently hampered Smith’s career. He has only played two full 16-game seasons in seven years. Smith will have missed a total of 17 games over the past four seasons.

Rookie first-round pick Marlon Humphrey will replace Smith in the starting lineup when Baltimore plays at AFC North-leading Pittsburgh this Sunday night.

If Smith didn’t go down with a significant injury, he might have missed the final four regular-season games anyway, depending on the outcome of the appeal. Smith would then have been eligible for the postseason if Baltimore made the playoffs.

The loss of Smith is a big hit to the Ravens (7-5), who control their playoff fate heading into the final four weeks of the regular season. Smith would’ve helped in covering the likes of Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton and A.J. Green.

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FRISCO, Texas — Jason Witten is in no rush to leave the Dallas Cowboys, despite his name being connected to the head-coaching vacancy at his alma mater of Tennessee.

“Coaching is something I can see myself down the road, having one of those opportunities, but right now I’m all in with this team and my feet are planted firmly here and this opportunity that I have in 2017 and getting it right this week,” Witten said. “And not only that, but I really love this team we have and what we’re trying to build and get it right, right now and for beyond, for the future.
“So I feel too good to think that I’d consider something like that at this point.”

Tennessee backed out of an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its next head coach after backlash from the fans. Witten’s name was mentioned as a possibility by outkickthecoverage.com, which said Witten would be willing to leave immediately to take over at his former school.

Witten, 35, who played for the Volunteers from 2000 to ’02, has a strong relationship with Tennessee athletic director John Currie, and he said they have spoken several times throughout the coaching search process but not recently.

“There’s a lot of smart people around him, and they’re working hard to hire and make the right hire to get our program back,” Witten said. “I’m confident that they’ll do that.”

Witten, who signed a four-year extension in the offseason, is in his 15th season with the Cowboys. He owns the franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, most games played, most games started and consecutive games played, while earning Pro Bowl honors 10 times. He is fourth all time in the NFL in receptions, second among tight ends.

Witten has 50 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns this season.

He said his focus is on Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“I have this unbelievable opportunity and I love playing, and I think the people around you can say, ‘Oh maybe one day he’ll be a good coach and consider something like that,’” Witten said. “Certainly I can see that happening down the road, but no time soon. I’m enjoying loving what I’m doing right now.”

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SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks’ bad luck with injuries continues.

Starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin left two plays into Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons to be evaluated for a possible concussion. He has yet to return, which has pressed Byron Maxwell into action at right cornerback.
Seattle’s secondary was already missing Richard Sherman and strong safety Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks lost Sherman (Achilles) and likely Chancellor (neck) to season-ending injuries in Week 10 vs. Arizona.

Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin is attended to by team staff during the first quarter.

Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin is attended to by team staff during the first quarter.

The Seahawks brought back Maxwell, a former Seattle starter, after losing Sherman. Neiko Thorpe, mainly a special-teams player for Seattle, has played in some sub-packages against Atlanta.
The Seahawks also have lost running back Mike Davis for the remainder of the game to a groin injury. He was making his Seahawks debut after being promoted from the practice squad last week and had given Seattle’s offense a spark before leaving after the first possession of the third quarter. Davis had two receptions for 41 yards and six carries for 18 yards while serving as Seattle’s lead running back before he went down at the start of the third quarter.

Eddie Lacy and J.D. McKissic are Seattle’s other available running backs with Thomas Rawls inactive as a healthy scratch.

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When the NFL convenes for its Dec. 13 meeting in Irving, Texas, there will be an owners-only session that will deal with the impending extension for commissioner Roger Goodell, sources said Thursday.

The session was scheduled after Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones requested a special meeting in front of the full ownership group on Nov. 28 in New York. The Wall Street Journal first reported Jones’ request. The request was denied, but owners will make time for a session in conjunction with the meeting in Irving, sources said.

Jones and the NFL have gone back and forth about the extension talks that have had both sides threatening legal action. He has said he has issues with compensation in the Goodell deal, along with concerns about the escalation of player protests involving the national anthem and how the league has handled them, and he has denied that his objections are tied to Goodell’s decision to suspend Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games over alleged domestic violence.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press obtained a letter sent to Jones from the compensation committee that accused him of “conduct detrimental to the league’s best interest.”

Jones set the table for the special session when, on Wednesday, he distributed the original contract negotiation document with all 32 teams. He acted on his own after his request of the committee to share the information was rejected Tuesday, sources told ESPN.
The document, which the NFL has characterized as outdated, shows the compensation committee on July 25 first proposed a five-year extension for Goodell that included a pay cut of roughly $2.5 million in his average compensation package of $42 million over the past five years.

Goodell’s lawyer countered in early August with a request for an annual package of salary and bonuses totaling $49.05 million, almost $10 million more than the $39.5 million in salary and bonuses that was proposed by the compensation committee. The request drew the lines for the ongoing negotiations that have been unexpectedly contentious and thus far without an agreement, according to a 26-page analysis of the proposals by the committee’s legal and accounting advisers on Aug. 16 and obtained by ESPN.

There have been no additional formal written offers made by either side, sources told ESPN, but the two sides have had numerous discussions in an attempt to complete negotiations on a contract extension for Goodell that would run through March 2023.

Prior to this document being obtained by ESPN, it was believed Goodell currently makes about $30 million per year. An NFL owner told ESPN earlier this week that there are “several owners in this league who don’t make $40 million a year.”

Some owners have said the new pay package being sought by Goodell is “unseemly” and “offensive.” Goodell’s base salary is $3.5 million — and would remain the same under the new contract — but with bonuses from performance incentives, his total compensation package far exceeds the annual salary of the NFL’s highest-paid player.

According to the document, one of the negotiations’ sticking points is the amount of severance that would be paid to Goodell, who intends to retire early after a new collective bargaining agreement is met and new contracts are signed with the NFL’s TV network partners, the document shows. The committee proposes paying Goodell $40 million upon his resignation as commissioner, while he is seeking $62.5 million, according to the document.

The commissioner also has an agreement to serve as a consultant for five years after leaving the NFL for a lump-sum payment of $19 million, the document shows.

In a story Sunday by Peter King of MMQB.com, Goodell was said to be open to a contract with as much as 88 percent in bonuses, saying, “I’m willing to bet on myself.” But in the analysis of both sides’ initial proposals by Daniel J. Ryterband, the chief executive officer of F.W. Cook, Goodell’s counteroffer “includes language that could be interpreted to mitigate the ability of the committee to adjust pay downward (even if performance is poor).”

Chaired by Falcons owner Arthur Blank, members of the compensation committee met Monday via conference call to discuss the latest developments in their negotiations with Goodell. Sources say the contract is moving toward completion despite protestations from Jones, who has threatened to sue several owners and the NFL if Goodell’s contract is approved without the input and final approval of all 32 owners. At the league’s spring meetings in Chicago in May, all 32 owners voted to give the compensation committee the authority to extend Goodell’s deal beyond its expiration date of March 2019.

Under Goodell’s current contract, there is no provision for a non-disparagement clause. But under Goodell’s proposed contract, he asks for a mutual non-disparagement clause. In an analysis of Goodell’s request, the compensation committee’s lawyers wrote, “Is the NFL … willing to provide a mutual non-disparagement which would include owners and executives? Difficult to ‘police’ owners and executives, but could consider limiting it as a requirement to instruct owners and certain executives not to disparage” Goodell.

Goodell has also asked for an “early expiration” of his contract, after the completion of the CBA and media contract negotiations, which he would not exercise until sometime after March 31, 2022, but before the new contract’s expiration two years later. Goodell has asked for a full year’s bonus in the year he leaves early, which could cost the NFL an additional $21.5 million in bonuses, the documents show.
Among other bonuses that Goodell is seeking is a $25 million “performance bonus” for a new CBA with the players’ union and a new round of contracts with the league’s business partners.

Both Jones and the committee’s outside counsel have accused each side of misleading other owners. Sources say Jones believes Blank has not been entirely transparent in communicating the finite details of negotiations when it comes to the incentives and discretionary bonuses. Jones also has complained to other owners that Goodell’s advantage is that he reappointed Blank as the committee chairman to negotiate a contract that was already “one-sided” in favor of the commissioner. Blank has taken affront to the attack, sources said.

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Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones confirmed Monday that Ezekiel Elliott will be training outside the United States during his suspension.

Jones, who made his comments in an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, didn’t disclose the exact location where the running back is training.

NFL Network first reported the news of Elliott’s plans.
“Actually, I give Zeke credit. This was his idea. He’s wanting to really go to work and not have distractions while he’s not able to play the game. He felt the best way to do that was to get away from this environment … and really work to get himself in the best possible shape,” Jones said.

Jones said Elliott went over his plans with the team’s coaches and strength and conditioning staff, who were comfortable with what they heard.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, Stephen’s father, said Sunday night that he also believed Elliott had a good plan for his time away from the team.

Stephen Jones noted that the Cowboys aren’t permitted to have contact with Elliott during his suspension but was hopeful that the running back will be able to stay in playing shape.

“Certainly it’s not easy when you’re not in a competitive environment, but it sounds like he has a good plan and hopefully one he’ll pull off,” he said.

Elliott, 22, was suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time. The NFL players’ union sued on Elliott’s behalf.

He was able to play in the first eight games through a number of legal decisions, but he lost a temporary administrative stay that kept him on the field in last week’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cowboys missed Elliott in Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, as the team rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries. Alfred Morris led the Cowboys with 53 yards on 11 carries but had just 8 yards on six first-half carries. Elliott had 783 rushing yards in the first eight games of the season, with four straight games of more than 90 yards on the ground.

He will miss at least the next four games, pending a Dec. 1 hearing, and he is likely to miss the next six.

“He’ll be a better person from this and a better player for us when this is all said and done. It will be a life lesson for him and hopefully he’ll come back and take the next chapter,” Stephen Jones said.

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BOSTON — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez suffered severe damage to parts of the brain that play an important role in memory, impulse control and behavior, a researcher who studied his brain said Thursday.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center, stressed that she could not “connect the dots” between the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the behavior of the 27-year-old who hanged himself in April while serving life in prison for murder.

But McKee said CTE had significantly impacted key parts of Hernandez’s brain, including the hippocampus — which is associated with memory — and the frontal lobe, which is involved in impulse control, judgment and behavior.
“We can say collectively, in our collective experience, that individuals with CTE — and CTE of this severity — have difficulty with impulse control, decision-making, inhibition of impulses or aggression, often emotional volatility and rage behaviors,” said McKee, who has studied hundreds of brains from football players, college athletes and even younger players, donated after their deaths.

Hernandez hanged himself in prison days after he was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston and just hours before his former teammates visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

Prosecutors contended he gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub — and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime.

He had been serving a life sentence without parole in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd when he killed himself.

Hernandez, who said he was innocent, did not raise CTE in his defense at either trial.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, has been found in former members of the military, football players and boxers and others who suffered repeated head trauma.

BU researchers confirmed in September that Hernandez was diagnosed with Stage 3, out of 4, of the disease. But McKee had not publicly discussed her findings until a conference at the university on Thursday.

After Hernandez’s CTE diagnosis, his attorneys filed a lawsuit against the NFL and football helmet maker Riddell, accusing them of failing to warn Hernandez about the dangers of football. The lawsuit, which seeks damages for Hernandez’s young daughter, said he experienced a “chaotic and horrendous existence” because of his disease.
While the outside of Hernandez’s brain appeared normal, the inside was riddled with CTE, she said. There was evidence of previous small hemorrhages, which experts associate with head impacts, she said. Other parts, like the hippocampus, had begun to shrink and large holes were found in his brain’s membrane, McKee said.

The next youngest person whose brain they’ve examined that showed such serious CTE damage was 46 years old, McKee said.

“These are very unusual findings to see in an individual of this age,” McKee said. “We’ve never seen this in our 468 brains, except in individuals some 20 years older,” she said.

Hernandez inherited a genetic profile that may have made him more susceptible to the disease, McKee said.

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BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon used drugs or alcohol before every NFL game he played, Gordon told the magazine GQ in an interview released Monday.

The Browns wide receiver told GQ that he made taking some substance “a ritual … before every game.”

“We would stay at the team hotel, and then players are allowed to go back home, get what they need and then go to the game,” Gordon said. “So I’d leave the hotel early morning, go home, eat breakfast, do my little ritual, whatever it may be, some weed, some alcohol and then go to the game. And then, I’d definitely be partying after every game, win or lose. Every game.”
Gordon said he started taking drugs in seventh grade, continued through college and even did something before every game he played in 2013, when he led the league in receiving yards while playing 14 games.

"I'd leave the hotel early morning, go home, eat breakfast, do my little ritual, whatever it may be, some weed, some alcohol and then go to the game," Josh Gordon said in an interview with GQ released Monday.

“I’d leave the hotel early morning, go home, eat breakfast, do my little ritual, whatever it may be, some weed, some alcohol and then go to the game,” Josh Gordon said in an interview with GQ released Monday.

“When I got to the league, I think they had their doubts from the very beginning,” Gordon said. “From the day they drafted me, they had to know there was some type of risk involved. I don’t think that they specifically knew. But I’m sure they had their doubts. [I] missed a lot of meetings, showed up late a lot of times, eyes were probably bloodshot on many occasions. But I guess you couldn’t really draw a definitive conclusion because I thought I was evasive enough. And because nobody told me anything.”
Gordon said he’s different now because he went to a lengthy rehab for himself, not for someone else.

“At this point, I thought, ‘If I want any type of a life, if I wanted to live, [I'll stop],’” he said. “It was like: You’re never going back to f—ing work ever if you can’t figure out how to live. Because at this point in time, the trajectory, you’re going to die. You’re going to kill yourself.”

He also said he moved to Gainesville, Florida, because he could not take what he called harassment from Browns fans in Cleveland.

“Living in Cleveland, sometimes it could be a nightmare,” Gordon said. “I’ve been harassed, had drinks thrown at me. I’ve been [followed] in the grocery store, heckled everywhere. At the games, people harassed and heckled my brothers and my mom. [My] brothers got into fights in the stands. Cars [have] been jumped on. Somebody dented the hood of the car. Had to sue a guy and get the money back ’cause he damaged the car. People are throwing money, pennies, to break the windows. So Cleveland was rough, man.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson said the interview would not affect his thinking on Gordon’s rejoining the team.

“I think he was letting things out, if that’s what was said,” Jackson said. “I think he was cleansing himself of his past, and I get that, a little bit. But again, I think he said what he felt he needed to say.”
At his first scouting combine after being hired, Jackson said he would not put up with nonsense. On Monday, he said, “that’s not going to change.”

“I think we need to let him get out what he feels like he needs to get out,” Jackson said. “I’m sure this is part of his rehabilitation as well. To say certain things that you’ve done, I think that’s kind of good. Because you got to put it behind you as fast as you can.”

Jackson said he will need to know that Gordon is not trying to talk his way into being released with this interview.

“I don’t think he is trying to do that,” he said. “I do need to feel comfortable that he’s not. If he’s coming back to play football, I think he knows he needs to play football here.”

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METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints released a statement Thursday saying it is “unfortunate and disappointing” that a retired Navy commander who declined an honor at Sunday’s game has been telling media outlets he no longer supports NFL football because of player protests throughout the league before and during the national anthem.

“We will not allow Mr. [John] Wells’ decision and subsequent media appearances to distract our players and organization from continuing to honor and support our military and veterans,” the Saints said in their statement, which stressed the organization’s “unwavering 50-plus year commitment to honor, support and recognize our servicemen and women and veterans.”

In the statement, the Saints also emphasized their players have stood for the anthem in every game since the franchise’s inception in 1967, with the exception of “the Week Three game at Carolina when a few of our players did sit.”
Since then, Saints players have chosen to kneel before the anthem in a display of unity, then stand during the anthem. Still, many fans have booed the kneeling players inside the Superdome even though the booing has not taken place during the anthem.

Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Cameron Jordan touched upon this on their Twitter accounts Thursday, with Vaccaro writing, “Our crowd boos us before the anthem, therefore it’s not about the flag, it’s about the fact we are bringing awareness to a cause that makes people uncomfortable.”

Jordan tweeted about how fans have “ignored” the reason behind the player protests.
Wells, who is the executive director of the national Military Veterans Advocacy in Slidell, Louisiana, was selected as a Peoples Health Champion, an award given at Saints home games to recognize “the exceptional achievements of Louisiana residents age 65 and older.”

Since Week 4, Saints players have chosen to kneel before the national anthem in a display of unity and then stand during the anthem.

Since Week 4, Saints players have chosen to kneel before the national anthem in a display of unity and then stand during the anthem.

However, Wells declined the honor, calling the protests during the anthem a “slap in the face to veterans” in a news release and saying he could not “in good conscience” enter an NFL stadium.

“Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players’ disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation,” Wells said according to the release. “Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it.”

The Saints released their lengthy statement in response on Thursday afternoon:
“Respectfully and honorably, we chose Mr. Wells for the Peoples Health Champion Award purposefully for this game to bring to light the exact issues that he and his organization represent — the health and well-being of our military, veterans and their families. Unfortunately, he has chosen very publicly not to accept this honor and refused the opportunity to promote the very cause for which he was being honored and distract from awareness we hoped to build throughout our community. We respect his decision, he has that right, and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.”

The Saints went on to list the community appearances and financial commitments the team has made to military and related organizations, and to stress that owner Tom Benson — a former Naval officer — has been honored and recognized as a longtime supporter of the military. They said they would use the time at Sunday’s game that had been allotted for Wells’ award to “highlight non-political military advocacy programs and encourage our fans and community to join us in contributing to these groups who directly support our military and veterans.”

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In a span of seven minutes, Marcell Dareus used the words shocking, overwhelming and emotional to describe what he’s felt since he was traded to the Jaguars on Friday evening.

From the phone call from the Buffalo Bills informing him of the trade to his arrival in Jacksonville amid the annual Florida-Georgia game at EverBank Field to meeting the coaching staff to quiet moments in his hotel room, Dareus said he was still trying to adjust even as he participated in his first practice Monday morning.

“I still haven’t gotten over it yet,” Dareus said. “I’m still in shock. I’m shocked for a trade. I’m shocked that this defense, this team … I’m still just taking it all in. It’s three days, man. Three days.”

The Jaguars’ newest defensive tackle said he had an idea that something may have been in the works last week but he continued to prepare for the Bills’ home game against Oakland. When he was told he was headed to Jacksonville in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2018, things started to happen pretty quickly.

Friends and teammates stopped by his home on Friday night to say goodbye, and on Saturday morning he was headed to the airport with a one-way ticket.
“I still haven’t gotten over it yet. I’m still in shock. I’m shocked for a trade. I’m shocked that this defense, this team … I’m still just taking it all in. It’s three days, man. Three days.”

Marcell Dareus said Monday that it's been a whirlwind three days after being traded from the Bills to the Jaguars.

Marcell Dareus said Monday that it’s been a whirlwind three days after being traded from the Bills to the Jaguars.

Marcell Dareus
“Little overwhelming,” Dareus said. “Kind of saw some things happening but at the same time I was getting prepared for the game and we had a game plan in and I was practicing all week and I’m just zoned in, trying to keep negativity out. And when I got the call and things happened the way it did, I can’t lie it did make me a little emotional because I know [Saturday] it is a one-way ticket [to Jacksonville].

“It was so swift that before I knew it I was already in Charlotte and by the time I got to Charlotte, a blink of the eye and I’m here in Jacksonville saying hey to the coaches, the biggest cocktail party in the world, and with all that going on it was just — the world is spinning. Traded, on the plane, cocktail party, going to the stadium, saying hello, getting out, going to the hotel room laying on the bed looking at the roof: What is going on?”

Dareus isn’t completely unfamiliar with the Jaguars. Doug Marrone was the head coach and Nathaniel Hackett the offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2013-14. Jason Rebrovich is the Jaguars’ assistant defensive line coach and he was a quality control/assistant defensive line coach under Marrone in Buffalo, too.

That at least helped to somewhat lessen the shock, but he’s now caught up in learning the Jaguars’ defensive system and finding out where he fits in. The Jaguars are last in the NFL against the run (138.6 yards per game) and no team has allowed more than their 5.2 yards per rush. The 6-foot-3, 331-pound Dareus gets headlines because of his prowess as an interior pass-rusher (35 sacks in six-plus seasons) but he’s one of the league’s better run-stuffing tackles.
Dareus had his two best seasons under Marrone, racking up 17.5 sacks in 2013-14 and making the Pro Bowl in both seasons. The move does come with some risk. Dareus has had more than his share of off-field issues — he was benched for being late to a team meeting in 2013, was sent home from a preseason game this year for violating a team rule, was twice suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and he’s had two offseason arrests — but the Jaguars believe the help the Alabama product can bring the run defense is worth the risk.

“We’re all at risk, myself, everybody,” Marrone said. “I think some people get themselves in situations [and] you hope that they learn from it. If they don’t then obviously there’s consequences.”

Dareus said he’s glad to be getting a fresh start.

“I thought that Buffalo was home and extremely happy for everything I’ve done there, everything they’ve done for me, the organization,” he said. “… “At the same time it’s a business and this is where I am and I am thoroughly happy just to be a Jag. It feels good to be wanted.”